Dress Codes - Decoded
How many times have you received an invitation to an event stating that the 'dress code' is this and that and you were wondering what it really meant. Smart casual? Lounge suit? No idea. And you probably feel embarrassed to ask for an explanation when calling to RSVP.
I remember every time we organized a fashion show or other sorts of formal or less formal events, I would received so many phonecalls of people asking me, whether they could wear this and that and what should their husbands wear. So I decided to decode some of the main and often used 'dress codes' you can find on invitations.
The semi-formal dress for after 6pm
Consists of: Black dinner jacket with ribbed silk or satin lapels, single breasted & with single button. Black trousers with silk braid down each leg. Black silk bow tie. Black waistcoat or cummerbund. White dress shirt – pleated or Marcella. Black silk socks. Black patent leather shoes. Accessories include a white silk/cotton/linen breast pocket handkerchief
The standard dress for events before 5pm
Consists of: Morning coat, tails, in black for the most formal occasions; light colours e.g. grey for weddings and less formal events. Grey striped trousers. Black waistcoat (most formal i.e. funerals), grey, buff and white for weddings. Stiff white turn-down collar. Long tie (or cravat with winged collar). White shirt or coloured / striped shirt with white collar and cuffs. Oxford black shoes; jodhpur boots are acceptable at equestrian events. Black or grey silk top hat – occasionally. Formal gloves e.g. chamois leather – occasionally.
Full evening dress for after 6pm
Consists of: Black Tails (tail coat) with satin or ribbed facings. Black trousers with two satin stripes. White stiff-fronted cotton shirt. White wing collar. White bow tie. White waistcoat. Black stockings. Black patent leather shoes. Medals, decorations and sashes are also worn
The most commonly used dress code for events is probably a 'Cocktail' attire. This means you need to be dressed up, but no need for a suit and tie. The easiest way is to dress up as for 'Casual' attire, and add a blazer on top. You may also add a tie. You can be a bit more adventurous with things like pocket squares - or even socks. It is exactly what you would expect someone to wear in the bar of an American tennis club. I would suggest a nice blazer with a solid color pants paired with loafers worn without socks.
Lounge suit dress code calls for a business suit and tie for men (black, navy, gray or tan) with appropriate shirt. But be careful not to wear your striped suit, which is really only for your work.
Smart casual for men includes dress trousers, a long-sleeve dress shirt (tie optional), leather loafers or dressy slip-ons, dress socks, a belt, and, if appropriate, a sport coat or blazer. Some interpretations allow for sweaters and knit pullovers paired with button-down shirts; especially v-neck sweaters. Dark-coloured and well-maintained jeans are acceptable in some environments but not in others. Flip flops and shorts are not acceptable under a smart casual, nor in most cases are T-shirts (especially printed ones), except as an undershirt. Smart casual attire should feature muted, usually solid colors (patterns, if present, should be modest, such as vertical and/or horizontal stripes on shirts and houndstooth or argyle on sweaters; pants should always be a solid pattern).
Don't take the world literally. There are no flip-flops, shorts, t-shirts and worn jeans allowed. Casual wear means a nice pair of chinos, colored or dark denim, and a collared shirt (polo or button down). Shoes can include a dressier sneakers (preferably dark leather), driver shoes or loafers.